Package Travel Regulations 1992: a short explanation for industry professionals

Article reference: UK-IA-LAW11
Last updated: March 2023 | 7 min read

In the UK, anyone who more than occasionally sells or offers package holidays for sale must comply with the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

The Regulations set out the responsibilities of a travel organiser to his customers and the remedies available should there be a breach.

What is a package holiday?

A 'package' is defined in section 2(1) of the Regulations as a combination of at least two of the three following components of a holiday:

  • transport
  • accommodation
  • other services for tourists that make up a significant proportion of the package

A package must extend over 24 hours or more, or include overnight accommodation. If you simply organise day trips that include entry to an attraction and transport, the Regulations will not apply.

Lastly, a package must be sold at an inclusive price, i.e. the components should be bought together. However, separating out the items on multiple invoices only to escape the Regulations is not a way of getting round them.

Examples of packages:

  • a 'murder mystery' themed weekend at a country house
  • a holiday including accommodation, flights and day trips
  • a skippered yacht tour through the Whitsunday's
  • fly-drive holidays

Examples that are not packages:

  • day trips that include entry into a stately home and transport there and back
  • a holiday for the members of a club (who have already decided to go on holiday), to which you belong
  • letting out a holiday home that belongs to you or a friend
  • a special Christmas entertainment package for all the guests at your hotel

Application of the Regulations

The rules apply to those who put together and offer holidays for sale in the course of business - most likely tour operators and travel agents.

If you organise a holiday on behalf of friends or members of your sports club, the regulations do not apply.

The regulations do not define "occasionally", however, it is thought to mean regularly, even if this is infrequently. To be prudent, you should assume the Regulations apply.

The rules have been established to implement a European Directive that binds all EU member states and similar provisions apply universally in those other countries.

However, the UK regulations do not apply to packages sold in other EU countries by operators established in the UK. Those countries have their own specific regulations to implement the Directive.


You do not have to provide your customers with a brochure. If you do, it must contain specific information.

If you do not provide what you say is offered in the brochure then customers can sue you for damages. These damages could be for financial loss or for “loss of amenity”. Amenity means collectively all the aspects of lost pleasure and disappointment.

The brochure must provide information about:

  • the destination and the means, characteristics and categories of transport
  • the type of accommodation - it's location, category or degree of comfort, it's main features and it's tourist classification under the rules of the country it is in
  • which meals are included in the price
  • the itinerary
  • passport and visa and health requirements
  • the monetary amount (or the percentage) of the price that will be paid as a deposit, and the timetable for payment of the balance
  • whether a minimum number of people are required for the package to take place and, if so, the deadline for informing customers in the event of cancellation
  • arrangements if delays occur
  • arrangements for keeping customer money paid over secure, and those for the repatriation of the customer in the event of insolvency during the holiday

Before a contract is concluded, the customer must be given the following information:

  • passport and visa requirements, including the likely length of time it will take to acquire a visa
  • health requirements for the journey and for the stay
  • arrangements for keeping customer money paid over secure, and those for the repatriation of the customer in the event of insolvency during the holiday

The customer contract

The terms that should be in the contract with the customer depend on the specifics of the holiday being bought.

You must tell the customer:

  • the travel destinations
  • where periods of stay are involved, the length of time at each destination
  • the means, characteristics and categories of transport to be used and the dates, times and points of departure and return
  • where the package includes accommodation, it's location, degree of comfort, main features and if in an EU Member State, the rules for compliance in that country
  • which meals are included
  • whether a minimum number of people are required for the holiday to go ahead, and if so, the deadline for informing clients of the cancellation of the package
  • the itinerary
  • visits, excursions and other outings that are included in the price
  • the name and address of the organiser, the retailer and where appropriate, the insurer
  • the price of the package, any dues, taxes or other fees chargeable that are not included
  • the payment schedule and the method of payment
  • special requirements that the client has communicated when making the booking and that either the retailer or the organiser has accepted
  • the timeframe within which the customer can make a complaint

You must give the customer a written copy of the contract. The Regulations do not state when this must be done.

Any special requirements communicated by the client to either the retailer or the organiser that have been accepted by either, must be included in the contract.

Insurance can be sold as part of the package. The only rule in the Regulations is that you inform the customer about an insurance policy that they might wish to take out to cover the cost of cancellation by themselves or the cost of assistance in the event of emergency.

Changing the contract

If you want to change the contract, you should tell the customer immediately. The client than has a choice either to agree to the amendments, or to withdraw from the contract without penalty.

Application of surcharges if costs increase

A surcharge may only be applied if the increase relates to contract variations, transport costs, taxes or fees for certain services, and exchange rates. If you are going to apply surcharges, the contract must state that this is a possibility, and if so, how much the surcharge might be.

Pre-contact information

After the contract has been made and before the holiday starts, the operator must provide more detailed information, specifically including:

  • the times and places of intermediate stops and transport connections, including where the customer should go during these connections (i.e. should they stay on board, in their cabin etc)
  • the names, addresses and telephone numbers of agent representatives in the area, or if no agent exists, those of a second agency in that locality, where the customer can seek help

When the customer cannot avoid cancellation

If the customer cannot go on the holiday for circumstances outside of his control, they may transfer their booking to another person. This might mean the package is transferred to someone on a waiting list and not someone chosen by the customer.

Further obligations once the customer has gone on holiday

The tour operator is liable to the customer for anything that goes wrong that is caused by the improper performance of the contract. Most importantly the operator is responsible for all subcontractors.

That means, for example, the operator is liable if the quality of the service at a hotel in which the customer stays as part of the package fails to meet reasonable expectations, and automatically responsible for any accident which occurs during a camel ride arranged as part of the tour.

Limiting liability

A tour operator cannot limit liability for the personal injury or death of their clients. They can limit their liability for other loss or damage as long as it is reasonable.

Organising flights

If you are organising flights, or air travel, you may need to hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (be ATOL registered).

All these points have been carefully covered in our tour operator agreement, written in the 'non-legal' style for brochures commonly used in the travel industry.

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